Move it or Lose it

My initial draw to studying Chiropractic was the fact that it involved human anatomy/ physiology and offered a wholistic perspective of the interconnectedness of the body and its functions. The nervous system being the body's internal communicator, receiver and interpreter of information needed to stay alive, is tuned into everything occuring in the body- from changes in pH balance to the  position of our L4 vertebra. In regards to body movement, an aligned properly moving body requires minimal attention from the nervous system. If areas of the body are not moving properly, either due to restriction and limited motion or moving too much due to laxity, the nervous system senses this and initiates a response to help counter and restore balance.
 
With proper biomechanics and adequate alignment, reflexes to maintain and restore balance can occur without a hiccup. When bones in the body (spine or extremities) are out of alignment, or not moving properly due to chronic restriction or hypermobility, the nervous system senses this and creates a response to achieve balance of the whole.
 
In terms of movement, the body is organized in a reciprocal pattern of mobility- joints that are designed for maximum movement, and stability- joints that move but overall are not meant to move beyond a certain range. This alternating nature in the body allows for healthy, efficient motion. If the body consisted of only highly mobile joints, it would take a lot more effort to move around. The surrounding muscles would be required to become the anchor for each movement and every joint would absorb the momentum created by the movement, thus reducing the leverage to propel forward. On the other hand, if the joints in the body were all created for stability and minimal motion, movement would be extremely restricted. Long strides required for many sports would be virtually impossibly, changing the performance potential of athletes as we know it. The body would be unable to absorb the momentum being created or the force entering the skeletal structure with each impact, putting a tremendous amount of force on each joint involved.
 
To maintain and optimize body function, we must first understand body design. There are a number of reasons why an otherwise mobile joint becomes restricted. Repetitive posture or biomechanics such as sitting long hours or poor running technique can create hip restriction over time. On the other hand, trauma, weakness of the surrounding musculature or repetitive demand on an otherwise stable joint, can lead to laxity of the surrounding tissues may contribute to instability.
 
The dynamic nature of the body is fascinating in that pain or disfunction of a joint never occurs in isolation. If a joint is not functioning according to the design of nature, the surrounding areas of the body will adapt to maintain balance. This is important to remember in considering the source of a problem. In the process of addressing restricted hips for example, consideration must also be made for the knee, pelvis, etc. to ensure longterm resolution, and minimize compensatory adaptations.
 
So often, the source of a problem is not where pain initially surfaces. Understanding the dynamic nature of the body is helpful not only in the rehabilitation of dysfunction, but also in the maintainence of optimal, efficient movement and injury prevention. As a rule, the body is designed to move. So move. Strive for balance right to left, front to back, as well as balance of strength and flexibility. The body will adapt to injury as much as it will adapt to healthy behaviours.

 

Wine, Chocolate & High Heels

I recently had someone ask me if their backpain was related to the fact that they wore high heels the day before. My answer? Maybe...hard to say. It is not a secret that high heels can put added stress to the low back, ankles and feet. The lifting of our heel changes our centre of gravity and our body shifts to accomodate. We can not avoid stress entirely, nor do we necessarily want to, the bigger question is our body adapting appropriately to the stress.
 
It may be worth clarifying that there are multiple categories of stress where these ideas can be applied. High heels refer to more of a physical stress, however chemical stress (i.e. alcohol, sugar, etc.) and mental/ emotional stress (i.e. new job, lay-off, wedding, divorce) also apply. A healthy body is able to adapt to, what should be, a temporary stress.
 
Problems surface when the stress is no longer temporary. If a woman only ever wore high heels, eventually the body would adapt differently and problems may surface. Shortened achilles (the tendon at the back of the ankle), extra pressure on the lower spine leading to back pain, or even changes to the forefoot to accomodate the regular weight load distributed. In moderation however, the body has a chance to "bounce back" more easily so permanent changes don't take place. Even with moderation, ensuring a counter-action to help mitigate the stress produced on the body can provide further benefit, such as stretching the ankle/ calf after wearing heels.
 
In the response to the initial question, I equated high heels with chocolate and red wine (hard to tell what my vices are haha). Once in awhile, a glass of red, a little chocolate, is not a big deal and should not derail your health. If they became two main food groups however, you most definitely would note some negative repercussions.
 
When healthy, the 80/20 rule is a fair approach. If 80% of the time the best choices are made...eating the quality and quantity of food that is appropriate and necessary, participating in a well-rounded activity schedule (and as it relates to the above scenario, avoiding undue stress to our physical body), and maintaining an appropriate level of mental stress, then if in the other 20% of the time we choose to indulge, we really should be able to adapt and continue moving forward in a healthy way.
 
Be honest with the choices you are making 80% of the time. Journal if necessary to stay accountable and see where you may struggle the most, and acknowledge yourself for where you are living a life that will lead you to the outcomes you desire. Being healthy is about choice, not restriction or deprivation.